E-waste is the world’s fastest-growing domestic waste stream. Yet all those discarded mobile phones and laptops contain precious metals like copper, silver, gold, and valuable rare earth elements that also are being thrown away. Now, engineers at Rice University have found a way to extract them quickly and safely. The researchers say the process can recover more than 80% of silver, palladium, and rhodium and over 60% of gold, while removing heavy metals. “This will curtail the need to go all over the world to mine from ores in remote and dangerous places, stripping the Earth’s surface and using gobs of water resources," says chemist James Tour. "The treasure is in our dumpsters.”

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